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RRC Spiritual Directors

Rabbi Jacob J. Staub, Ph.D., Director

Barbara Breitman, D.Min.
Barbara Breitman is director of training of RRC’s spiritual direction program and assistant professor of pastoral counseling.  She was instrumental in developing the college’s spiritual direction program and continues to supervise the directors.  She also founded Lev Shomea, a Jewish spiritual direction program based at Elat Chayyim: Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center.  For many years, Bobbi has done innovative work at the intersection of psychotherapy, pastoral care, spirituality and Judaism. She has a private practice in psychotherapy and spiritual direction in Philadelphia.  (She is not available as a spiritual director for RRC students.)

Rabbi Marjorie Berman, '03
Marjorie Berman helped plan and implement RRC’s spiritual direction program.  She completed a residency in Clinical Pastoral Education, and has experience as a chaplain, pastoral counselor, congregational rabbi and spiritual director. She trained in counseling and Quaker practices of discernment. She also led spiritual direction groups at Society Hill Synagogue. 

Sandra Cohen, DSW
Sandra Cohen holds a doctorate in clinical social work and has a private practice in psycho-spiritual counseling.  For the last 10 years, she has provided group and individual spiritual direction.  She also developed the spiritual direction program for the Jewish Renewal Life Center.  In 2003, she completed the Shalem Institute’s training program in group spiritual direction, receiving ordination as a mashpiah ruhanit (spiritual director) from Rabbi Zalman Shachter-Shalomi.  She currently sits on the faculty of the Aleph Hashpa’ah Training Program and serves as one of its spiritual directors. 

Rabbi Nancy Epstein, '06
Nancy Epstein is associate professor of community health and prevention at Drexel University's School of Public Health. She also works extensively with faith communities in Philadelphia.  She recently completed the Institute for Jewish Spirituality's rabbinic program, which focuses on meditation, text study and yoga. She was a member of the fourth training cohort of Lev Shomea, the Jewish spiritual directors training program. She previously served as director of congregational relations for the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation, and as a hospital and Jewish nursing home chaplain.

Rabbi Elisa Goldberg, '99
Elisa Goldberg is director of the Joan Grossman Center for Chaplaincy and Healing of the Jewish Family and Children's Service of Philadelphia.  She previously served as chaplain of the Martin's Run Life Care Center, a geriatric care facility in Media, PA, and as director of the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation’s social action program.  She completed intensive training in Clinical Pastoral Education while she was a student at RRC.  

Rabbi Yael Levy, '95
Yael Levy founded A Way In, a Jewish mindfulness center, at Reconstructionist congregation Mishkan Shalom, where she serves as rabbi. She completed the mindfulness leadership training program at the Institute for Jewish Spirituality (IJS) and continues to study and teach mindfulness meditation. She has co-led IJS kayaking/mindfulness retreats in Alaska and she now leads yearly Omer mindfulness retreats in the New Mexico desert.  Yael creates written resources that integrate mindfulness practice with Jewish teachings and prayer. She has facilitated the monthly support group for RRC students in spiritual hevrutah for the last nine years, and the group spiritual direction support group for the last eight. 

Rabbi Yitzhak Nates, '00 
Yitzhak Nates serves as rabbi of The Narberth Havurah, a community committed to the cultivation of spiritual life, which he helped found in 2004. Prior to rabbinical school, he worked for several years in Israel and Washington, promoting the Arab-Israeli peace process. He also worked on hurricane disaster relief in Florida.  

Norman Newberg, Ph.D.
Norman Newberg holds a Ph.D. in confluent education from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He worked at the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education for 25 years, teaching courses on leadership, qualitative research methods and lifelong learning. At RRC he has taught “Creating Modern Midrash,” “Psychological Aspects to the Jewish Life Cycle” and “Learning Across the Lifespan.” He has worked with young and experienced Jewish professionals on career options and change processes. He is an experienced shaliach tzibur. As a spiritual director, he uses mindfulness training to explore purposes and values that contribute to a rabbi’s development.

Rabbi Ruth Gan Kagan (Israel)
Ruth Gan Kagan was ordained by ALEPH in 2004.  She is founder and spiritual leader of Nava Tehila, a nondenominational community in Jerusalem.  Ruth co-authored, with Rabbi Zalman Schacher-Shalomi, Jewish Renewal: Integrating Heart and World (2006).  She directs Nava Tehila’s bet midrash, where she teaches kabbalah and hasidut, and creates music for tefillah.  Ruth works as a mashpiah (spiritual director) for rabbinical students of all denominations during their years in Israel.

Rabbi Ela Merom, '11 (Israel)
Ela has practiced deep listening for many years: as a facilitator in co-existence work; as a trainer of facilitators in a spiritual non-violent communication method; as a leader of prayer and mindfulness meditation; and through drumming, chanting, Torah study and movement practice.  These have all been part of the same One path: listening for the constant divine flow in her own life and in the lives of others.  Bearing witness to the unfolding spiritual journeys of others is a precious blessing and an absolute sweet pleasure for Ela.

This is the archival site for the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. It is no longer updated.

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